Skeletons in the Closet?

When I started looking into my family history, I figured I would mostly find a lot of regular folks, farmers, etc. And that’s mostly what I found. I mean, aren’t most of us descended from regular folks?

Regular folks (farmers): Wilburn Larkin Kendall & Minty Viola Tilley Kendall, 1900. He as 20, she 23. My dad’s paternal grandparents.

But I also found some things that made me sad. The biggest one was finding people who had slaves, on both sides of the family. You can easily spot them if you look at census data, since it conveniently lists slaves as household members. Of course, now that I mention it, I can’t FIND any of them again. 

Because this is the way my mind goes, I began processing my white guilt a bit more. Now that I know there are a lot of indentured servants, plus genuine white slaves brought to America for nefarious purposes, and I also know that some of my ancestors in the southern US had slaves in their households, I began to wonder if it’s why I had such a strong reaction to the civil rights movement of the sixties.

I can remember being really angry at kids who weren’t nice to the black students in elementary school (we integrated in fourth grade). I’ve always had some sort of visceral reaction to people who are treated badly just because of how they look, where they come from, what spiritual path they are on, or who they love. Hmm, maybe it comes through the genes after all.

Back to ancestors

I digress. What I did find on my dad’s side of the family were more soldiers than I’d anticipated, but really, they were during times when most everyone was participating in military action. 

War Hero with very long name.

Speaking of skeletons in the closet, of course I found a couple of Civil War heroes lurking on Dad’s side, where there was a lot of action in north Georgia. There was my second great grandfather, Captain William Greenbury Lafayette Butt, of Union Georgia (where a LOT of ancestors settled in the early 1700s). He was on the losing side of that war. In fascinating additional news, his father was a postmaster, and also rather decorated: Judge Major John Butt III. Whew.

I also found soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War where the US broke from England. One example is Henry Tilley, Sr., in my grandmother’s line, who had five sons who fought in the Revolutionary War. On the Kendall side, my fifth great grandfather, William Kendall, appears to have died from war injuries in 1777. I think they were on the winning side.

Enoch de Melvin Underwood

On the Kendall side, there was 
Enoch De Melvin Underwood, who fought in the war of 1812. He was a warrior! He is buried in the Tilley cemetary in Union County, Georgia, where a butt-load of family members are (ha ha, many of them are Butts).

I guess that makes me a daughter of all those wars, but I’m not planning to join any clubs. I’m not really big on wars in general. But I do understand that, when everyone is participating, it’s a good idea to participate.

Anyway, the Kendalls appear to have arrived in the Virginia Colonies in the mid 1600s, so the family’s been here a while. Those Kendalls kept good records, because they  keep going and going until Richard Kendall, who was born in 1355! They also confused me, because in the 1700s a Kendall married a Kendall…possibly another skeleton in the closet? Why YES! John Kendall of the Revolutionary War, above, shows up in both lines!

Since this took me three days to write, I am going to stop. I hope you are able to find out where your ancestors came from and what they did. It can be interesting! Even if some of them were on the “wrong” side of history, it’s part of the story of who we are.

Crissi McDonald

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